If the Pistons played in the Western Conference, as the Red Wings do, they'd already be planning for a lottery selection.
Being a game under .500 in the NBA's Eastern Conference, where the Pistons are at heading into Tuesday's TNT game against Chicago, is more than good enough for a playoff berth. Only a complete collapse will prevent them from getting in.
Chicago is the current eighth seed at 33-38. The team with the next-best record is Charlotte at 31-39. The Pistons are 3 1/2 games ahead of the Bobcats with 13 games left. I figure if the Pistons win six more times, they're safe. They still have a good chance of catching Philadelphia at No. 6 if they can go 8-5. They have two more games left with the Sixers, including Sunday night.
Cleveland has a stranglehold on the top conference seed, with Boston and Orlando battling for the No. 2 spot. Obviously, the Pistons would prefer to draw the Magic, a team they have defeated three times this year and beaten in the playoffs the last two seasons.
Beyond the Lakers with the top seed, the West remains wide open. The other division races are extremely close, with three teams within 1 1/2 games of each other in the Southwest and Northwest divisions. A team can go from the No. 2 seed to the No. 7 spot with just a couple of losses and vice versa.